Tabor topples unbeaten Kansas Wesleyan, 14-7

Like a well-oiled machine, the 12th-ranked Tabor College football team powered its way to a 14-7 homecoming victory over No. 15 Kansas Wesleyan in the NAIA Football Game of the Week Saturday. Michael Griffin and Dylan Delk tackle Kansas Wesleyan quarterback Jake Curran on first-and-goal. The Tabor defense forced a turnover on downs, and the Bluejay offense followed by marching the length of the field for its first score.

The Coyotes took an early, 7-0, lead on their second possession of the game, covering 65 yards in six plays and scoring on a 28-yard touchdown pass. That score held through the end of the first quarter.

Kansas Wesleyan threatened to score a second time on its first full drive of the second quarter, quickly advancing from its own 45-yard line to the Tabor 9 in five plays. But the Bluejay defense came up with a big stop, as Kansas Wesleyan gained 8 yards in four plays. Derrick Lawrence tackled quarterback Jake Curran at the Tabor 1-yard line on fourth down to put the ball back in Tabor?s hands. Torrey Gill tiptoes the sideline after catching a 9-yard pass from Simon McKee during Tabor?s first scoring drive against Kansas Wesleyan.

From there, the Bluejay offense methodically marched the length of the field. Tabor maintained possession for nearly eight minutes, covering 99 yards in 17 plays. The drive was highlighted by a pair of 15-yard completions from Simon McKee to Torrey Gill, a 12-yard rush by McKee and a 10-yard pass to Joseph Donnell. McKee completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Skylar Valencia on fourth down to cap the drive. Jared Slavens? extra-point kick made it 7-7 with 1:29 left in the half. The score remained locked at 7 through intermission.

Defensively, Tabor forced a Coyote three-and-out to open the third quarter, then went back to work on offense. McKee put the ball in Donnell?s hands the first four plays of the drive and later completed back-to-back passes to Kaden Anderson and Donnell to put the ball at the Coyote 26-yard line. Rustyn Kerbs rushed for a 13-yard gain, then, after three carries by Ontreveon Cooper, the Bluejays were in the end zone for a 1-yard score, giving Tabor a 14-7 advantage after Slavens? extra-point kick. Joseph Donnell hauls in a 13-yard pass from Simon McKee during Tabor?s second scoring drive against Kansas Wesleyan.

Four plays into Kansas Wesleyan?s next drive, Evan Sprayberry recovered a fumble on a quarterback sack, but Tabor?s ensuing drive stalled at the Coyote 1-yard line.

Two plays into the fourth quarter, the Coyotes intercepted a Bluejay pass but Tabor limited the damage by forcing Kansas Wesleyan to punt. After Tabor went three-and-out, a fumble on the punt attempt put the Coyotes on Tabor?s 18-yard line. Four incomplete passes later, Tabor regained possession.

The teams traded punts. Following a missed Bluejay field goal attempt, the Coyotes got the ball back one final time with 1:37 to play. Kansas Wesleyan advanced from its own 20-yard line to the Tabor 19, where Curran spiked the ball to stop the clock with about 10 seconds left. Two passes to the end zone fell incomplete, giving Tabor the victory. The Bluejays celebrate following their 14-7 victory over Kansas Wesleyan.

The Bluejays recorded 427 yards of offense, including 280 rushing and 147 passing. Donnell led Tabor?s ground game with 28 carries for 161 yards. Through the air, McKee was 13-for-18 for 147 yards and one touchdown.

Michael Griffin led the defense with 10 tackles. Dylan Delk had two sacks. Tabor limited a Coyote offense averaging 528 yards per game to just 286 yards.

Coming?Tabor (5-0, 6-1) will travel to Friends Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game.

For scores and updates during games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13

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